Casey Ewers is a traveller, blogger and wine geek, writing about her adventures and expertise over at TravellingCorkscrew.com, Find out about her favourite wine regions to visit on a budget and where to get the best deals. You can also keep up to date with Casey on Google+ and Facebook.
To some, wine is still shrouded in the aura of being expensive and only for the rich. This is a complete myth. Wine is for any wallet size and doesn’t have to be of the plain label variety most buy at university. The experience of visiting a wine region should be on any traveller’s list, no matter what your budget. You’d be surprised what you can get for your money.
To meet the winemaker, see the grape vines and find out the story behind the bottle will open your eyes to a whole new world. On your return, your friends and family will be completely envious of your adventures and all you got to sample in wine country.
The biggest hurdle to exploring a wine region is transport. If you don’t have the budget (or courage) to hire a car in a new country, normally the question is ‘how do I get there?’
While most wine regions are a little too remote to explore without your own vehicle, there are some you can reach using just public transport or even by foot. To ease on the purse strings, quite a few wineries do offer free or affordable wine tasting options too. So, for those looking for the winery experience on a budget, here are 4 of the best:
1. The Swan Valley, Western Australia
Perth’s ‘Valley of Taste’ is a mere 20 minute drive from the city or a quick 25 minute train trip. If you decide to take the train, tickets should cost only $3-4 per person, one way, to Guildford train station on the Midland line. It’s a short trip and cheap, so won’t waste your money or the day.
Once you arrive in Guildford there are a grand total of five cellar doors (another name for wineries) to visit, plus a microbrewery for you beer drinkers. All can be reached by bicycle or foot and there are footpaths all along the main roads. It’s relatively flat too, so it won’t be too strenuous on the legs. If you want to reach all six locations, it’s roughly a 15km wobbly round trip.
While wine tastings costs a little at Riverbank Estate, Mulberry Estate, Sandalford Estate and the Ironbark Brewery, it’s free at Ambrook Wines and Pinelli Wines are completely free of charge. Also don’t forget at the end of the day to pick up one of the famous Alfred Kitchen burgers in Guildford town, there are over 40 different burgers to choose from.
2. Porto (or Oporto) & the Duoro Valley, Portugal
Porto is the home of port, a typically sweet fortified wine, and has some great port houses to tempt the taste buds. Most are located in the Vila Nova de Gaia area of town and some have free tastings & tours for the thirsty traveller. Here are just a couple to get you started:
For a really complete experience, try staying at the Wine Hostel on Campo dos Mártires da Pátria. They serve local wines at cheap prices and organize ‘drinking tours’ for the evening too.
3. Eger, Hungary
Eger is a small wine region, which is just a two hour train trip from Budapest. From the train station it is about a 15 minute walk to Szépasszony-Völgy, or Valley of Beautiful Women, as it translates.
Once here, you’ll find a ring of cellar doors built into several hundred-meter thick rhyolite tuff, a beautiful volcanic rock. As a result of this the inside temperatures sit at around a chilly 10-15°C, perfect for the wine, if not for the drinkers. But do not fear, they have plenty of blankets and after a few wines you’ll be super toasty.
It’s not really wine tasting per se, but more like a bar where you order by the glass. You might find yourself rocking after a short while, what with each glass costing only around 90 HUF. You can also buy two or three litre mini casks to takeaway for around 500-700 HUF, which makes the train journey back to Budapest pretty enjoyable. Also, attempt to speak some Hungarian, it’ll make the winemakers and cellar door staff all the more friendly.
4. The Penedès, Spain
The Penedès wine region is known around the world for the production of the Spanish sparkling wine, Cava, and the Cava houses are amazing with kilometers of cellar 20-30 metres below ground. Visiting is an experience you’ll never forget.
Freixenet is literally right beside the train line, a one and a half hour tour and glass of their standard Brut Cordon Negro is €6. Codorníu is located about two kilometers from the train station and is about a 30 minute steady walk from Freixenet. The one and a half hour tour is also €6 however you finish off with two glasses of Cava.
If you’d like more information on the wine tours mentioned in the article, visit the following websites:
Have you been on any budget wine tours? Let us know in the comments below…
rick baldwin said